If we could rely on the Japanese and American governments to inform us of any danger, we wouldn’t have to be so vigilant.
But given the American government’s cover up of the severity of the BP oil disaster, the health risk to New Yorkers after 9/11, and numerous other health issues, we will have to educate ourselves.
For example, the U.S. Surgeon General has recommended that West Coast residents stock up with potassium iodide, while other government officials say that is unnecessary, because radiation levels will not be high enough. But no government has disclosed radiation readings in the West Coast, so we can’t verify for ourselves whether or not there is currently any danger. See this and this.
As the San Jose Mercury News reports:
EPA officials, however, refused to answer questions or make staff members available to explain the exact location and number of monitors, or the levels of radiation, if any, being recorded at existing monitors in California. Margot Perez-Sullivan, a spokeswoman at the EPA’s regional headquarters in San Francisco, said the agency’s written statement would stand on its own.
Critics said the public needs more information.
“It’s disappointing,” said Bill Magavern, director of Sierra Club California. “I have a strong suspicion that EPA is being silenced by those in the federal government who don’t want anything to stand in the way of a nuclear power expansion in this country, heavily subsidized by taxpayer money.”
Mainichi Daily News reports reports that Japanese citizens are outraged over the lack of information forthcoming from their government:
Residents who have been evacuated after a radiation leak from a quake-hit nuclear power plant have expressed their anger with the lack of information about the incident and how to respond to it.
As ABC News notes, experts say that Japan has a long history of nuclear cover-ups.
The New York Times points out:
The different radioactive materials being reported at the nuclear accidents in Japan range from relatively benign to extremely worrisome.
The central problem in assessing the degree of danger is that the amounts of various radioactive releases into the environment are now unknown, as are the winds and other atmospheric factors that determine how radioactivity will disperse around the stricken plants.
BBC reports (scroll down on left side):
Japanese engineer Masashi Goto, who helped design the containment vessel for Fukushima’s reactor core, says the design was not enough to withstand earthquakes or tsunami …
Indeed, Goto said:
“It is difficult to say, but that would be a core meltdown. If the rods fall and mix with water, the result would be an explosion of solid material like a volcano spreading radioactive material. Steam or a hydrogen explosion caused by the mix would spread radioactive waste more than 50km. Also, this would be multiplied. There are many reactors in the area so there would be many Chernobyls.
And Goto accused the Japanese government of deliberately withholding vital information that would allow outside experts help solve the problems:
For example, there has not been enough information about the hydrogen being vented. We don’t know how much was vented and how radioactive it was.
The former editor of the Japan Times – Yoichi Shimatsu – states that after a high-level government meeting, “Japanese agencies are no longer releasing independent reports without prior approval from the top,” and that censorship of what is really occurring at the plant is being overseen under the Article 15 Emergency Law.
France is also accusing Japan of downplaying the nuclear threat.
And Haarertz notes:
Since the Japanese government has not provided accurate information regarding the possible threat posed by the explosion at the Fukushima nuclear power plant, experts in Israel and abroad are divided on the scope of the disaster and the ramifications for the environment.
There are some very incomplete real-time monitoring networks such as this and this (both of which are both run by companies which sell geiger counters). But the number of monitors is very small and incomplete.
So we must harness the power of the Internet in order to educate ourselves.
Simple … Everyone who has a geiger counter can post a live stream to the web like this guy in Santa Monica, California:
Make sure you give your location (city, state and country) so people know where you are, the make and model of your geiger counter, and the units of radiation being counted (i.e. counts per minute, milli-roentgens per hour or micro-sieverts per hour).
When enough people do this, we will have a citizens radiation monitoring network, and we won’t have to be blind or helpless due to the lack of information coming from governments … we will have the real information.